Volunteers turned up for a day of spring cleaning, collecting more than 30 bags of litter, with police using the opportunity to engage with the community after concerns over anti-social behaviour.

Held on a cloudy Thursday afternoon, turnout was low, with just two local Dove Bank estate residents pitching in, alongside volunteers from the police, council, and the housing association – in an area police say has been struggling to engage with.

Bolton at Home’s Ceri McHugh organised the event, sending out hundreds of flyers to encourage residents to turn up and pitch in.

The Bolton News: Ceri McHugh organised the eventCeri McHugh organised the event (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

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Ceri said: “We’ve organised it to link in with the Great British Spring Clean. As Bolton at Home, we wanted to do something to support that and try to improve the environment and our neighbourhoods.

“We know there’s a lot of groups who do go out regularly litter picking and they do a fantastic job, so we just wanted to contribute to that.”

The Bolton News: Volunteers met outside Taby's Off LicenceVolunteers met outside Taby's Off Licence (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

'It's just nice to be part of it'

Volunteer Annette Hall is part of the Little Lever litter pickers group.

Also working for Bolton at Home, Annette said: “I’ve always done this type of volunteer work in my own private time, it’s just something I’ve been brought up to believe in, and it’s just nice to be part of it really, isn’t it?”

The Bolton News: Annette Hall (left) and Paul Haunch (right) pitched inAnnette Hall (left) and Paul Haunch (right) pitched in (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

With land owned and managed by different stakeholders, including the council, Bolton at Home, Great Places, and private owners, it can be difficult to keep things clean and tidy – but volunteers hope cleaning up will encourage residents to take pride in their area.

Not everyone, however, was convinced that the litter pick would help improve the area.

The Bolton News: Reporter Jack Fifield took part in the litter pickReporter Jack Fifield took part in the litter pick (Image: Cllr Andrea Taylor-Burke)


Jean Walkden, aged 79, has lived on the estate since it was built in the 1960s – and her three daughters now live in it too.

Upon witnessing people picking up the litter, she shared her view that the litter would soon return, despite the efforts of volunteers.

Jean said: “It used to be a lovely estate, it used to be. You couldn’t have fencing up like they’ve got now, you had all that little white fencing up. It were a lovely estate, you had a bench there for old people, but it’s just gone to ruin."

The Bolton News: Jean said a garage had been burnedJean said a garage had been burned (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

Jean said fire services had to visit the estate over the weekend after a fire broke out in one of the garages.

'A bit upsetting' more residents didn't turn up

Cllr Andrea Taylor-Burke has lived in Little Lever for 18 years, after moving from Great Lever.

She said it was ‘a bit upsetting’ that more residents hadn’t turned up, but that she was happy to get her ‘hands dirty’.

The Bolton News: Cllr Andrea Taylor-Burke was picking litterCllr Andrea Taylor-Burke was picking litter (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

The councillor added: “You have many different discussions with people and they’ll say it’s due to council cuts, and often I obviously get the brunt of that because I’m a Conservative councillor, so it’s our government cuts, but in my eyes it falls to society – this isn’t a council issue, it’s not a government issue, it’s a societal issue.

“We need to be teaching youths – and not just youths, as a lot of litter comes from adults as well – about the importance of respecting where we live, and I think that doesn’t boil down to government and cuts, that boils down to loving where you live, and I became a councillor for that reason.

“I became a councillor for that reason, I love where I live and my kids are here, I want my children to respect where they live and I think showing people that it isn’t somebody else’s job, it’s our job to do it, kind of gives that feedback.

“We’re not just here doing it to go in the papers, we litter pick all year around, it’s getting people to understand: just throwing litter on the floor, somebody else isn’t going to pick it up. If it doesn’t get picked up, it gets left like this.”

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Police 'trying to be more visible'

PC Nicki Forsham and police community support officer Wayne Jackson were using the event as an opportunity to pick up litter, and to engage with the community.

The officers had posted an anonymous survey to residents before the event, picking up the results as they picked litter.

Having been in the force for 17 years, PCSO Jackson said: “We’ve done every house on the avenue, dropped a leaflet through asking from a scale of bad to good how they feel stuff affects them.

“So, off-road bikes, litter lying around, noisy neighbours – that kind of thing. We’re just trying to engage, people are saying there’s a lot of off-road motorbikes, but if they’re from around here people will know where they are.

“We’re trying to be more visible in the area. Rather than having a faceless number to ring, they can come and report it to us.”

The Bolton News: Left to right: David Haunch, contractors Connor Allen and Darren Ogden, and organiser Ceri McHugh Left to right: David Haunch, contractors Connor Allen and Darren Ogden, and organiser Ceri McHugh (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

Difficulties engaging with the community

PC Forsham agreed that there had been issues engaging with the community previously.

She said: “It is the case where a lot of people don’t want to report things, through maybe fear of reprisals or having a negative effect on them.

“But from being here about 12 months now, a lot of complaints are made by people who live either in the immediate area or not far away.

“It’s trying to tackle those who are causing problems, but in a positive way if we can, by getting them to engage through things like the litter pick today.”

The Bolton News: PC Nicki Forsham (left) and PCSO Wayne Jackson (right)PC Nicki Forsham (left) and PCSO Wayne Jackson (right) (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

PC Forsham, who is herself from Bolton, joined the force seven years ago, after working as a prison officer.

The 34-year-old added: “We’re doing a lot of work with the youths at the moment, to go and do a youth club or outreach services. I appreciate there isn’t really anywhere for people to go or much to do.

“It’s trying to tackle it through different things really, to make it good for them, a nice place for them all to live and hopefully something that they’ll be able to do on the back of these engagement surveys.”

Anyone looking to get involved in the litter-picking events can contact Bolton at Home.

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk.